Wrestling Review: WWE Backlash (2018)

WWE Monday Night Raw and Smackdown Live superstars both will take part in the first co-branded PPV in the WWE, as Newark, New Jersey plays host to WWE Backlash. The WWE Championship is on the line in the main event, as AJ Styles defends against the con artist known as Shinsuke Nakamura, and following their double countout in Saudi Arabia at the Greatest Royal Rumble, Styles and Nakamura will be facing off in a No DQ match. Roman Reigns and Samoa Joe will also look to settle their war of words, whilst the monstrous team of Braun Strowman and Lashley will face the Canadian duo of Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn. The Intercontinental Championship is on the line as Seth Rollins of Raw defends against the Miz of Smackdown Live, and if The Miz can get the win he will tie Chris Jericho with the most number of title reigns in the IC title’s history, while over on the Smackdown side of things, the United States Championship is also on the line as Jeff Hardy and Randy Orton face each other for the first time in ten years. Nia Jax defends the Raw Women’s Championship against Alexa Bliss, Carmella defends the Smackdown Live Women’s Championship against Charlotte Flair and Daniel Bryan

+ Samoa Joe vs Roman Reigns: despite the crowd having absolutely none of this match – chanting for CM Punk and calling it boring the whole time – this was not too bad. Reigns seemed to stick to brawling, rather than his ugly “flashy” offense, and Joe is just a beast no matter the situation. This was an intense brawl from before the bell even rang, and I enjoyed it, but the ending was so anti-climactic it almost retroactively ruined the match
+ Daniel Bryan vs Big Cass: as far as Bryan matches go, this was not his best, but it was so much better than I expected. Bryan is just fantastic, and I think everybody has missed him in the ring, and while Cass might not be much at the moment, this match has given me hope that there might be more to him than I first thought
+ Seth Rollins (c) vs The Miz (Intercontinental Championship): this was the opening contest, and this was really good. Perhaps a bit too much of the Wrestlemania-style ‘near finishes’, but it only made the winner look even better, perhaps at the expense of the loser

Braun Strowman & Lashley vs Kevin Owens & Sami Zayn: I don’t understand the point of these matches, or the aftermaths. It just makes everybody involved look so bad
AJ Styles (c) vs Shinsuke Nakamura (WWE Championship): I don’t know why the WWE seems intent to not let these two just go all out; all anybody has wanted since Nakamura won the Rumble was for these two to have a NJPW style match, and really cut loose from the WWE mold, so to speak, even if just for one match. But for whatever reason, that is once again not the case in the now trio of disappointing matches from these two, even after a nasty chair spot took it’s toll on Styles’ face
Carmella (c) vs Charlotte Flair (Smackdown Live Women’s Championship): Carmella is so bad at wrestling, but good lord almighty she is ridiculously good looking. Charlotte is the opposite to me in many ways, but it takes two to tango, as they say, and this tango was simply not good
– an Elias segment went from good to great to incredible, but much like many of these things in the WWE, it went one step too far and lost all the good will it had built up
Jeff Hardy (c) vs Randy Orton (United States Championship): this was a surprisingly slow paced match, with each man blasting the other (accidentally?) in the face a few times throughout. This match never clicked for me, especially not in the way their matches a decade ago, but it seems neither man could stand against the ravages of time (damn, that was some poetic stuff from me)
Nia Jax (c) vs Alexa Bliss (Raw Women’s Championship): this was not a good match. Jax already got her revenge on Bliss at Wrestlemania, so this David vs Goliath contest, where the ‘David’ is the supposed bully, just sent the wrong message. Not to mention, the post-match sucked

Should you watch this event: As Michael Cole half seriously said following the match, there was no way any match was going to top Rollins/Miz in the opening contest, and unfortunately he was right. Almost every match was boring, had a bad result (that is, objectively bad, not just me bitching for personal sake) or accomplished nothing, and despite a few good matches, this was overall a really disappointing show. I hope that’s not a sign for all the co-branded stuff to come.

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